A novel extracorporeal kidney perfusion system: a concept model

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The number of patients awaiting kidney transplantation has more than doubled in the past decade while the number of available donor organs has seen only a modest increase, leading to a critical shortage of organs. In response to this extreme shortage, the criteria for accepting organs have been modified to include marginal donors such as non-heart beating donors (NHBD). In these kidneys, determining viability is important for success of transplantation. Therefore, a study was undertaken to develop a system that would allow the extracorporeal assessment of function and compatibility of the donor organ before the patient is exposed to the risks associated with surgery.Following bilateral nephrectomy, the kidneys of 10 pigs (∼30 kg) were connected to a commercially available hypothermic pulsatile kidney perfusion apparatus. This system was modified to allow for normothermic pulsatile renal perfusion using the potential recipient's blood, via vascular access. These kidneys were perfused with the animal's blood for a minimum of two hours while various parameters were monitored. Perfusion pressures were kept between 60 and 90 mmHg, which correlated to flows between 70 and 150 mL/min. A decrease in perfusion pressure with a concomitant rise in flow over the twohour period served as a good predictor of a viable and compatible graft. The modified kidney preservation system allows the normothermic, pulsatile extracorporeal perfusion of donor kidneys with the ability to monitor resistance to flow and urine production. This model also allows observation of the kidney for signs of hyperacute rejection. Further research needs to be conducted in order to determine if the system represents a methodology to increase the pool of available donor organs.

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